Thursday, September 30, 2010

you're STILL colonized

so i just finished taking this test that was linked on a blog forum i get on. it's a test developed at Harvard to supposedly test our individual racial preferences. you can take the test here (the one on the left. and then the first box labeled "race').
interestingly enough, or rather, unfortunately enough, my data suggested i have a "moderate automatic preference for European American compared to African American". there are seven possible outcomes-having a slight, moderate or strong preference for African American; slight, moderate or strong preference for European Americans, or no preference. and while 54% of the participants have either a moderate or strong preference for European American, only 6% have a strong or moderate preference for African American.

in other words-i'm still colonized. i am still mentally enslaved. i'm one notch below a Europhile.
hmmm....unfortunate. disheartening. sad. and a bit overwhelming.

it's even more tragic g when i feel as though i actively work towards self love (the self meaning people of color in general, but blacks particularly), as you can see with this blog....but i guess theres a subconscious level at which we all operate that we don't realize. unfortunately there doesn't exist a 12-step program for de-colonizing yourself. yea....i've a lot of work to do.

comment. think. take the test and let me know what your outcome is and your feelings about it.
photo by Margaret Rowland

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

"the central moral challenge of this century is gender inequity." ~Sheryl WuDunn

co-author of the book, Half the Sky, (a book i haven't read yet) Sheryl WuDunn speaks about the gender holding up "half the sky" that are the most important and most vital to the health and prosperity of all communities and countries-women.

here is a link to a cover Corinne Bailey Rae did of a Bob Marley song entitled "Is This Love?"
you're welcome.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Michael Ray Charles

i know i might be bombarding you all with these unnerving images, but i HAVE to share this artist someone on Tumblr i follow posted a video about- Michael Ray Charles. it's interesting how i'm looking and posting about these images from the 30's, and in the process, i find this artist who seems like he's on the same page as i am as far as our visual appetites go right now.
his art is AMAZING. there is so much in it. i really like when art looks one way, and then you look at it and see something you didn't know was there, and it changes the entire aura of the piece of art. Kara Walker's art does that for me. a few of Charles' pieces are like that as well (check out the image in the top right corner with the man in the suit).

comment. think. know of any similar artists? share.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Saul Williams' letter to Oprah

the more things i read from Saul Williams, the more i am blown away by his critical perspective and amazing poetic abilities. here is a letter i found that he wrote to Oprah. if you've read some of my other posts, you'd know that me and Oprah have a connection like theists and their gods. talking shit about Oprah in my presence is a sure way to get a cap in yo ass. just
anyway, while i adore Oprah on my levels, i actually am open to criticisms of her. most of them happen to be jealousy, misunderstandings, and nonsense, and some of them happen to be informed and constructive. Saul's letter is one of the latter. he write a letter to her addressing her stance on Hip Hop, and he has some very very valid points (although it should be noted that bell hooks makes many similar criticisms in her book Outlaw Culture-definitely a must read. heres an excerpt from his letter:

"...You see, Ms. Winfrey, at it's worse; Hip Hop is simply a reflection of the society that birthed it. Our love affair with gangsterism and the denigration of women is not rooted in Hip Hop; rather it is rooted in the very core of our personal faith and religions. The gangsters that rule Hip Hop are the same gangsters that rule our nation. 50 Cent and George Bush have the same birthday (July 6th). For a Hip Hop artist to say "I do what I wanna do/Don't care if I get caught/The DA could play this mothafukin tape in court/I'll kill you/ I ain't playin'" epitomizes the confidence and braggadocio we expect an admire from a rapper who claims to represent the lowest denominator. When a world leader with the spirit of a cowboy (the true original gangster of the West: raping, stealing land, and pillaging, as we clapped and cheered.) takes the position of doing what he wants to do, regardless of whether the UN or American public would take him to court, then we have witnessed true gangsterism and violent negligence. Yet, there is nothing more negligent than attempting to address a problem one finds on a branch by censoring the leaves.

Name calling, racist generalizations, sexist perceptions, are all rooted in something much deeper than an uncensored music. Like the rest of the world, I watched footage on AOL of you dancing mindlessly to 50 Cent on your fiftieth birthday as he proclaimed, "I got the ex/if you're into taking drugs/ I'm into having sex/ I ain't into making love" and you looked like you were having a great time. No judgment. I like that song too. Just as I do, James Brown's Sex Machine or Grand Master Flashes "White Lines". Sex, drugs, and rock and roll is how the story goes. Censorship will never solve our problems. It will only foster the sub-cultures of the underground, which inevitably inhabit the mainstream. There is nothing more mainstream than the denigration of women as projected through religious doctrine. Please understand, I am by no means opposing the teachings of Jesus, by example (he wasn't Christian), but rather the men that have used his teachings to control and manipulate the masses. Hip Hop, like Rock and Roll, like the media, and the government, all reflect an idea of power that labels vulnerability as weakness. I can only imagine the non-emotive hardness that you have had to show in order to secure your empire from the grips of those that once stood in your way: the old guard. You reflect our changing times. As time progresses we sometimes outgrow what may have served us along the way. This time, what we have outgrown, is not hip hop, rather it is the festering remnants of a God depicted as an angry and jealous male, by men who were angry and jealous over the minute role that they played in the everyday story of creation. I am sure that you have covered ideas such as these on your show, but we must make a connection before our disconnect proves fatal."

and check out this video of Saul. about halfway in he starts his "Telegram" to Hip Hop.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

"he never gave me rope/ in the times i couldn't cope"

Nicodemus mentality

i'm currently reading a book thats been in my possession for some time now that i just haven't looked into until recently. it's called The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow by Richard Wormser. a VERY informative book about the period right after emancipation that i think goes up to around the 30's (but i'm only partially done with the book). interestingly enough, this book has me thinking (among many other things) about the idea of public assistance and capitalism overall. i just finished reading an article (linked from Rebecca Walker's blog/website) about "The Anti-Bono", Dambisa Moyo who wants all foreign aid to African countries to cease within five years.

from what i gather, Moyo believes that the majority of foreign aid given to African countries is misused by the governing bodies of the specific countries receiving it. she believes that the focus needs to be on rebuilding the country from within through a better economic system as opposed to each country getting as much money as the world can donate.
if you think about it, what she's saying makes sense. throwing money at an issue almost never solves a problem unless the person getting the money knows what to do with it. and when the money is given to people who use it to encourage tourism as opposed to helping establish, say, public schooling (as in the case of Ghana), then it is no wonder many countries have been dwindling for decades. although i oppose capitalism and the capitalistic mindset at this present time in this country (emphasis on "at this present time in this country". i am not a socialist, a communist, a capitalist, or any other oversimplified label. i think different countries at different periods of time in their development can use elements of one system to aid in their progression. they're subjective, i think), i do think it can/should be used in some cases to encourage self responsibility, if not trust in one's ability for success.

i mentioned the book because the article brought to mind the same thing as i'm reading it. reading about the new towns that were established after emancipation, their voracious craving for knowledge and a formal education, and the level of community that was established so that all blacks could succeed make me seriously question the need for welfare.

for example, Nicodemus was a town in Kansas established by blacks after emancipation. they basically built this town from the ground up, having their own shops, banks, and trade posts. they marketed it as a "black town" and encouraged blacks fleeing the south in the Great Migration to make this town their home. and aside from Booker T. Washingtson establishing a school, many blacks established their own schools and businesses. considering that whites typically were frightened by blacks educating themselves, blacks funded the schools themselves, which was not an easy feat coming from one of the most disenfranchised groups in the country. one person would donate some food, another would donate a pair of shoes, wood and labor, and sometimes just a few cents. one school teacher accepted chickens and eggs as tuition. and the thirst for knowledge was even greater. theres a number of excerpts in the book about mothers taking their children from their work as sharecroppers to go to school and children walking miles in blistering heat or snow alone just to attend school.
and all this was coming from people who were basically still enslaved, although it was labeled "sharecropping". these towns and schools were coming from NOTHING. yet they were thriving because they knew that they had to do for themselves.

going back to the interview with Dambisa Moyo, i think this is what she wants to accomplish. i wonder if, when these celebrities and governmental officials are rallying around throwing money at some issue in, say, Rwanda, whether the idea of helpless blacks is not guiding their propensity for monetary "support". and in the United States, i wonder if we have lost the yearning for self-reliance as well as the idea that we as a community can support each other. blacks in the United States are overwhelmingly members of the political party (Democrat) that supports welfare and governmental assistance, most of which support governmental assistance.

ultimately, i wonder if many a times, we do not possess enough trust in the willpower, abilities, strength and tenacity of our people. knowing what blacks accomplished after having been enslaved for centuries within a few years after emancipation while being sharecroppers, it's a wonder how anyone can think we NEED governmental assistance. the same goes for African countries-what do these people who advocate foreign aid think Africans were doing prior to aid from them? wallowing in self-pity, wondering when whites would come and solve all their problems??
my brother showed me this link the other day of what looks like the entire population of black people in Atlanta standing in line for an application for public housing. some people do need this, but all of them? absolutely not. where did this NEED for governmental assistance come from? if these people knew of the history of what we accomplished at one point in time and what we can accomplish, who knows how many people would be asking (if not, demanding) a hand out. whether this insistance on welfare comes from a twisted idea of reparations or a lack of trust in the abilities of our people is up for debate.

that being said, i do (currently, in this country) support a reformed form of welfare. i do not know enough about the current economic standings of most countries in Africa, so i cannot say that she is correct in promoting a free trade (capitalistic) system of government. but i do think that advocating against welfare (whether in the form of foreign aid in African countries or food stamps in the United States) is worth a discussion.

criticize. comment. think.
the photo on the right is the town of Nicodemus.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Emory Douglas

so i've seen one or two of his images on the internet a few times, but today i say a book at Barnes & Nobles about all the work of Emory Douglas, famous poster artist from the 60's who chronicled the revolution from the perspective of the Panthers especially, but of all oppressed communities. he is an amazing amazing artist. his use of collage, bright colors, and text add to the subversion of it. i think many people forget that the Panthers were as much against classism as they were against racism. "the pig" was not a synonym for white people, it was the upper class, the imperialists, capitalists, racists, and anyone who supported the oppression of any group of people. these posters have so much to them.
i wish you could see the text on the smaller ones, but if you google his name, you can go the websites i got them from and enlarge them.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Fast Food Nation

i wanted to share a blog i have been following for some time now- Sistah Vegan Project with Breeze Harper.
i really love how she analyzes EVERYTHING. exploring the the spaces in which issues intersect with others brings an entire new perspective on so many things. she talks about how race intersects with diet, how gender issues intersect with race, how both of those intersect with class issues and struggles, how class struggles intersect with diet, their connections with capitalism, its connection with the environment and our treatment of the's a new concept to think that all these things are connected and to hear and understand how they're connected.

i was just in a discussion on facebook about a physician's letter to the president asking him to consider the people that abuse the system when thinking about making healthcare universal. and the physician said something along the lines of "...the patient informed me they only eat fast food and smoke a pack of cigarettes a day...." (in order to show how many poor choices the patient was making that contributes to their ailments...leaving to doctor to question why they should have to pay for someone's healthcare like this). the fast food portion stuck out to me and i thought about Breeze Harper and her criticisms of the system and how they relate to our food choices.

around January, i stopped eating meat, and soon after that i stopped eating at fast food restaurants. theres a million and one reasons i stopped eating meat, and i may talk about that in another post, but this post is more focused on why i stopped eating fast food.
for one, most of them don't serve a meal (side-dishes, yes, but not full meals, with the exception of salads) without meat in it, so that was my personal issue. second, once meat is removed from the diet, you (well, i) become more conscious of the food groups and what you should be intaking. not getting enough iron or protein could be the difference between having energy and being light-headed just walking up a flight of stairs (not the worst case scenario). and many of these fast food restaurants do not offer fruits and vegetables (again, with the exception of salads), making their menu pretty dim for me. those are the initial reasons, but more importantly, i stopped eating at them because of what they stand for, what they promote and who they target.

i did a post a while back about a book i read that was a catalyst for my diet change and connecting that with another book i read that spoke about the staggering statistics on health (or lack thereof) in black and brown communities.
what they stand for: these companies stand for and benefit from money money and more money. Eating Animals and the documentary Food, Inc. illustrate how fast food chains have taken over the meat industry and made it what it is today (i.e. an industry that raises sick, diseased animals for the cheapest amount of money to produce the highest amount of profits while treating farmers, factory workers, restaurant employees and consumers like shit). the demand for meat has skyrocketed based almost solely on these fast food chains. they don't stand to feed the hungry (because TONS of their food is thrown away daily. i used to work at McDonalds. trust me.), they don't stand to help anyone's diet. they stand simply to take your money at the least cost to them. eating at these places is filling some white man's pocket and nothing more.
what they promote: fast food chains promote shitty, nutritionally vapid, cheap (cheap monetarily and qualitatively)....shit. lol...i don't know any other word to describe their food. theres a few people taking a photo a day or carrying around months or year old hamburgers and fries from McDonalds that AREN'T AGING. what kind of bread or meat doesn't mold or break down in some fashion? they promote illness, obesity, and all around bad health. we're making some corporation fatter while we somewhere down the line develop type 2 diabetes and hope we don't have to get one of our fingers or limbs cut off.
who they target: they target low-income families , most of which are black and brown communities. in my last post i talked about the Church's Chicken commercials with the black woman selling chicken with her exaggerated accent and neck twisting taking me back to the images of mammy. but look at any fast food restaurant commercials, who are in them (Popeye's, Church's, Checkers, and McDonald's)? whats that-oh, black people and brown people? whats that i hear-hip-hop? and urban slang? did she just say "chile"? oh....and they're dancing? ....seriously?
if the top paid marketing companies that design these commercials were to lay out their plans and reasoning behind why they chose who they chose for the commercials, why they have certain music playing and why the script sounds like it was written by a high schooler from brooklyn....everyone would be up in arms about how racist it is, yet when you see the product...i guess it becomes blurry for some of us.

the book, Killing the Black Body is also a good book that talks about mainly forced sterilization of colored women and reproductive rights, but it also goes into the history of health and takes it back to how food has basically been another factor in the demise of black and brown communities. during slavery, food was used to keep the slave alive just enough so that he/she could work, make babies, or serve the slave owner. eating lard, gravy and other scraps of menial food was what they had to eat to survive. can we not see the correlation between that time and black and brown people STILL eating only what can get us by and not things that aid in our betterment and longevity?

this is as much an individual issue as it is a societal. we have to be the ones to demand that these companies start offering better food options, to children especially. how much of the blame does the parent own when, for example, they have only 10 dollars to last them the rest of the week?-theres McDonald's EVERYWHERE (convenience) and their dollar menu allows for you to spend $3 (cheap) on a meal when anywhere else would be at least double that. and the company knows this. as much money as McDonald's, for instance, is making, there is no way they could not afford to offer fresh fruits and vegetables or maybe just better quality food like...i don't know...REAL meat.
the capitalistic system we live in is as much to blame for unhealthy eating choices as our individual will is. when this is the food we've been raised on (because our parents were working class), what we know, what our culinary preferences have come to love, it's no wonder black and brown communities have to many illnesses, diseases, and deaths based on factors that could have been avoided like our diet. these restaurants are the enemies, but the change that needs to happen is going to have to start with us before they will change. we have to make a dent somewhere in their pockets or raise enough awareness around the negatives of these fast food chains in order for something to change. although you as an individual can make a start by not eating from these restaurants or doing it less often.

comment. think. change your eating habits. analyze your diet. prioritize. criticize.
also, check out a post i did a while back on food. and some hip hop on food.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Race and Representation

i was reading an article about an artist by the name of Kenya (Robinson) on a blog and something she said stuck out to me:
"I feel like Black people in America (specifically) feel a sense of shame attached to the brutality of our collective history. I hope to inspire a sense of entitlement that comes from acknowledging our strength and recognizing our birth right to the American dream. I wish to inspire active questioning through my artwork. Whether it’s an address to the lucrative ambitions of the prison-industrial complex (or a visual investigation of the misrepresentation of women in mass media (White Bitches: The Platinum Eaters). There is a reason that Art can transcend language- I believe that I can help create a space to insert diverse voices into this dialogue."

i think theres at least a tinge of shame as well as a lot of ignorance and misinformation surrounding our history. i read a book a while back that spoke about shame and how people are shameful of things they shouldn't be many a times. being a descendant of a slave and being raped, for example. i believe the book was Black Rage.

i would really like to explore more imagery of black and brown people from a time when our society was more covertly racist. googling words like "mammy", "jim crow", and "pickaninny" produce a plethora of strikingly racist, negative, and sometimes just confusing images from the past. for example, i've seen an image of black children with alligators many a times without the slightest explaination. recently, a blog i follow-Abagond, did a post about the history of "Gator Bait" that provides the story behind the photos.

more importantly, how have the images of the past translated to the present day? have they translated at all? if so, what is the impact on our society? what is the impact on our individual identities? does anyone see similarities between, for example, mammy and the black woman with a southern fried accent selling none other than chicken on Church's commercials (really. the only thing she's missing is a gingham rag on her head, a white baby on her hip, and the omnipresent "yessa massa". although theres a mountain of reasons to stop eating at Church's, i'd stop eating there just off that)?

comment. think. criticize.
also, if you have some other photos that have racist content for other groups of people, feel free to share. i know there are plenty of racist cartoons from the early 1900's depicting Mexicans and Fillipinos in demeaning and ignorant ways, but there weren't many i could find on my search.